Anacostia Community Research Guide

Welcome to the Smithsonian Libraries and Archives' Anacostia Community Research Guide. This is a comprehensive list of freely-available resources for students, teachers, and researchers to learn more about urban communities in general and the Anacostia community in Washington, DC in particular. Please feel free to Contact Us with suggestions for additional resources or with questions.  

Top Resources

  • SIRIS:  The Smithsonian Libraries catalog, offering in-depth catalog records on the most important books. 
  • Smithsonian Institution Collection Search Center:  The Collection Search Center allows users to freely search over ten million records, including two million online media files, for books and objects.

Art and Culture

  • African American Art & Culture Complex:  As the only City owned arts and cultural center in the Western Addition neighborhood dedicated to Afrocentric cultural norms, traditions and values, the AAACC is a integral part of the community's cultural urban landscape.   
  • Community Museology:  This is the home page. It includes videos, and information about a fellows program. An innovation lab and research center that creates, studies and showcases media for social impact, focusing on independent, documentary, entertainment, and public media.
  • Community Voice Project Stories American University:  These are the stories. Click on images to see each artistic story with captions. Seeking out and gathering untold stories of our community has been the mission of the Community Voice Project of American University since 2008.
  • Diverse Books:  Covering many topics -- diversity, institutional effectiveness, public policy, higher education administration, health disparities, etc.
  • DuSable:  This museum promotes understanding and inspires appreciation of the achievements, contributions, and experiences of African Americans through exhibits, programs, and activities that illustrate African American history, culture and art.
  • THEARC:  Improves the quality of life for children and adults who reside east of the Anacostia River by providing leadership, management and financial oversight of the Town Hall Education Arts Recreation Campus; provides access to high quality educational, health, cultural, recreation, and social service programs. 


  • Urban Waterways:  ACM research and curatorial staff have investigated how people engage with urban rivers in Southeast DC, and in other similar riverbank communities, by documenting community involvement with the Anacostia River and its watershed.
  • Gateways:  Through the gateways of social justice, community access, and public festivals, this exhibition explores the experiences of Latino migrants and immigrants in four U.S. metro areas: Washington DC, Baltimore, MD; Charlotte, NC; and Raleigh-Durham, NC.
  • Derek Webster:  Derek Webster (1934-2009) created sculptures from scraps of wood, trash, and found materials, and adorned them with costume jewelry and brightly colored house paint.
  • Bridging the Americas:  Using images and narratives, this exhibition presents the various ways in which Zonians and Panamanians in the D.C. metropolitan area think about home and belonging in and in-between Panama and Washington, D.C.

Film and Video

  • Filmakers Library:  A source of issues-based documentaries with relevance across the curriculum – race and gender studies, human rights, globalization and global studies, multiculturalism, international relations, criminal justice, environmental studies, bioethics, health, political science and current events, psychology, the arts, literature, and more.
  • PBS:  Designed for improving the early literacy, math, and social-emotional skills of young children ages 2 to 11.


  • Howard University Jazz Ensemble:  Recognized as one of the foremost college jazz ensembles.
  • Institute of Jazz Studies:  Founded in 1952, the world's foremost jazz archive and research facility. In 1966, Rutgers University Library was chosen as the collection's permanent academic home. 
  • Music in Latin America:  Trusted Internet portal for Latin American Studies content from 1992-2015. Lists hyperlinks sorted by region, then by country.
  • New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival:  With 12 stages of music—jazz, gospel, Cajun, zydeco, blues, R&B, rock, funk, African, Latin, Caribbean, and folk—this festival is a celebration of both historic and contemporary significance.


  • Curbed-Washington, D.C.:  All you need to know about homes, neighborhoods, and cities—Since 2004, Curbed has been part of the online housing industry, by providing editorial analysis, coverage, and insight about 14 American cities.
  • DC Afro:  The Afro-American, commonly known as The Afro, is a weekly newspaper published in Baltimore. It is the longest-running African-American family-owned newspaper in the US, established in 1892. There have been as many as 13 editions of the newspaper in major cities across the country; today, there are just two: one in Baltimore, the other in D.C.
  • DC City:  This blog connects Washingtonians with restaurants, hotels and more through premium online content produced by local bloggers, photographers and videographers. 
  • Diverse Issues in Higher Education:  The only source of critical news, information and commentary on issues concerning diversity in American higher education since 1984. Focusing on access and opportunity for all in higher education, including tenure, salary, faculty, students, recruitment, retention and equity.
  • East of the River:  Local community news and lifestyle pieces, with coverage on neighborhood schools, businesses, real estate, crime, events, school closures, and neighborhood emergencies.
  • Capitol Hill Rag:  A monthly community newspaper based in D.C.'s Capitol Hill neighborhood. In addition to Capitol Hill, it provides coverage of the Southwest Waterfront, H Street Northeast, and Navy Yard neighborhoods.
  • PoPville:  Chronicles the happenings in D.C.’s neighborhoods. Topics covered include quality of life, real estate, restaurants, bars, retail, architecture, gardening, pets, transit, crime and daily life in D.C.
  • The Washington Informer:  Founded in 1964, by Dr. Calvin Rolark, in order to highlight positive images of African Americans. Continues to only display positive news, as we strive to EDUCATE, EMPOWER, and INFORM.
  • Washington Business Journal:  Since 1986, contains business news from around DC, updated throughout the day.


  • AAM:  The American Alliance of Museums has been bringing museums together since 1906, helping to develop standards and best practices, gathering and sharing knowledge, and providing advocacy on issues of concern to the entire museum community.
  • AAAM:  The services provided by the Association of African American Museums (AAAM) enhance the ability of those museums to serve the needs and interests of persons of African ancestry and those who wish to know more about the art, history and culture of African-derived cultures.
  • DC Urban League:  The Greater Washington Urban League was founded in 1938 and is one of more than 100 affiliates of the National Urban League. A major civil rights and social services organization, the League has been dealing effectively with a wide range of social and economic problems for 71 years.
  • National Urban League:  The National Urban League is a historic civil rights organization dedicated to economic empowerment in order to elevate the standard of living in historically underserved urban communities. Founded in 1910 and headquartered in New York City.


  • 11th Street Bridge Park:  The 11th  Street Bridge Park, a project of Ward 8 based nonprofit Building Bridges Across the River, will be Washington, D.C.’s first elevated public park spanning the Anacostia River: a new venue for healthy recreation; environmental education and the arts.
  • DCPS:  District of Columbia Public Schools (DCPS) consists of 111 of the 238 public elementary and secondary schools and learning centers located in Washington, D.C.
  • GWU Textile Museum:  An institution with a nearly one-hundred year history, an established audience, and a respected collection of textile art representing five continents and five millennia.
  • Howard University Gallery of Art:  The Gallery was established in 1928. Since its inception, the gallery's permanent collection has grown to over 4,000 works of art and continues to serve as an academic resource for the Howard community.
  • Howard University Libraries:  Composed of eight branches and centers--The Founders Library, the main library, founded in 1939. The School of Business Library; The School of Divinity Library; The School of Social Work Library; The Moorland-Spingarn Research Center; The Channing Pollock Theatre Collection; The Patent and Trademark Resource Center; The Undergraduate Library; and Afro-American Studies Center.
  • Library of Congress - American Memory Historical Collections:  American Memory provides free and open access to written and spoken words, sound recordings, still and moving images, prints, maps, and sheet music that document the American experience. 
  • Martha's Table:  For over 37 years, Martha’s Table has worked to support stronger children, stronger families, and stronger communities by increasing access to quality education programs, healthy food, and family supports.
  • Split This Rock:  Cultivates, teaches, and celebrates poetry that bears witness to injustice and provokes social change. The name "Split This Rock" is pulled from a line in “Big Buddy,” a poem from Langston Hughes.
  • Thurgood Marshall Academy:  A college-prep public charter high school in ward 8’s historic Anacostia neighborhood. The school upholds Supreme Court Justice Thurgood Marshall’s legacy of equal opportunity through our commitment to providing an excellent education for all students. Opened in 2001.
  • University of the District of Columbia (UDC):  The University of the District of Columbia (UDC) is the only public university in Washington, D.C. UDC is one of the few urban land-grant universities in the country and a member school of the Thurgood Marshall College Fund.
  • United Planning Organization:  The designated community action agency for Washington, DC, it was established in 1962 to plan, coordinate, and implement human services programs for low-income residents in the Nation’s Capital.
  • Washington Historical Society Research Guides:  (named The Columbia Historical Society until 1988) is an educational foundation and museum dedicated to preserving and displaying the history of Washington, D.C. The society provides lectures, exhibits, classes, community events, and other educational programs as part of its mission. In addition, the society's Kiplinger Research Library houses a collection of books, maps, photographs, and other materials relevant to the history of the city.

Smithsonian Institution Resources

  • ACM Collection:  Artifacts, works of art, photographs, documents and paper records, audiovisual media, and other materials that help us understand how communities work. Materials that document the history and everyday life of urban communities and neighborhoods.
  • Anacostia Community Museum:  Exists to enhance understanding of contemporary urban experiences and strengthen community bonds.
  • CFCH: The Center for Folklife and Cultural Heritage is a research and educational unit of the Smithsonian Institution that produces the Smithsonian Folklife Festival, Smithsonian Folkways Recordings, exhibitions, documentary films and videos, symposia, publications, and educational materials.
  • Latino Center:  Since 1997, ensuring that the contributions of the Latino community in the arts, history, national culture and scientific achievement are explored, presented, celebrated and preserved.
  • Smithsonian Museum Conservation Institute (MCI):  The Smithsonian’s Museum Conservation Institute (MCI) is the center for specialized technical collection research and conservation for all Smithsonian museums and collections.
  • National Museum of African American History and Culture (NMAAHC):  The NMAAHC is the only national museum devoted exclusively to the documentation of African American life, history, and culture.
  • National Museum of American History (NMAH):  Through incomparable collections, rigorous research, and dynamic public outreach, we explore the infinite richness and complexity of American history.
  • National Museum of the American Indian (NMAI):   A resource for the Western Hemisphere's Native communities, serving the greater public as an honest and thoughtful conduit to Native cultures—present and past—in all their richness, depth, and diversity.
  • Smithsonian Environmental Research Center (SERC):  SERC provides science-based knowledge to meet critical environmental challenges, leading objective research on coastal ecosystems—where land meets the sea.
  • Smithsonian Institution Traveling Exhibition Service (SITES):  Offers exhibitions to museums, libraries, science centers, historical societies, community centers, botanical gardens, schools, and other institutions across the nation.

Urban Studies Resources

  • CDI Blog:  The Anacostia Community Documentation Initiative (CDI) is an ongoing effort to document and make accessible to the public a wide range of original material on the social, cultural, economic and contemporary community life of urban neighborhoods.
  • Community Histories:  The Anacostia Oral History Project Collection contains oral history interviews with 55 individuals who either grew up in or spent a considerable amount of time in the neighborhood.
  • Oral Histories:  A "how to" guide from the Library of Congress. Recording oral history interviews with family members about aspects of their lives and memories of other relatives and important events in the family’s history.
  • Urban Geography:  The long-lasting legacy of the Great Migration. When millions of African-Americans fled the South in search of a better life, they remade the nation in ways that are still being felt.

Urban Waterways Resources

  • UW Newsletter:  The Smithsonian Anacostia Community Museum Urban Waterways Project is a long-term research and educational initiative based upon research on the Anacostia River and local communities, as well as research examining urban waterways in communities in other cities. The project raises public awareness about human-biosphere interaction, engenders appreciation for rivers and their role in sustainable urban development, and fosters civic responsibility and advocacy for waterways. It is particularly focused on working with communities on the frontline and most affected by development and environmental impacts.
  • Anacostia Watershed Society:  To protect and restore the Anacostia River and its watershed communities by stopping pollution now, restoring natural systems, and reconnecting the community to the river.
  • Urban Waters Partnership:  Many government agencies and non-profit organizations are involved in various activities to improve and plan for the future of the Anacostia River. Some agencies collaborate through a variety of partnerships.
  • Leadership Council for a Cleaner Anacostia River:  Assembled in September 2014, the Leadership Council consists of 23 high-level local, state, and federal government officials and environmental leaders who support the Mayor’s vision for a fishable and swimmable river. 
Last Updated October 6, 2023